In a Facebook posting on Tuesday, Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen criticised having to stand up for the national anthem before watching a film, calling it a ‘disgrace and ridiculous’.
“I would not know how to tell my friends overseas that we are so patriotic that we play our national anthem before watching a movie.
“Is Malaysia heading towards the communist Mao era where everywhere you go you must shout out loud and show you are a patriot,” he said in the post Tuesday.
He later deleted the post, but not before earning the ire of netizens and also several Cabinet Ministers, including Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Urban Wellbeing, Housing, and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
Khairy was one of the first to lash out at Chong for his insensitive remarks, labelling him the ‘disgrace and ridiculous’.
“Wow. I did not know the policy of playing Negaraku before a film starts was tedious and an absolute disgrace.
“Maybe it is you that are an ‘absolute disgrace and ridiculous, Mr Chong,” the Umno Youth chief said.
Abdul Rahman wrote on his Facebook page: “You are absolutely a disgrace. Standing up to honour the national anthem is not a play child. You think by apologising you can change your DNA? I doubt it!”
Ahmad Shabery shared Chong’s original status on his Facebook page and asked netizens to give responds to his actions.
“YB Chong Chieng Jen (DAP Kuching), in his Facebook account, criticised Negaraku being played in cinemas during the Independence Day and Malaysia day celebrations. What do you think?” he asked his followers.
Chong later posted an apology for his remarks, but still stood firm by his opinion that the national anthem should not be played at an entertainment outlet.
“Though I feel that it is inappropriate to play the national anthem in a place of entertainment like a cinema, but the words I used have been inappropriate.
“I hereby retract the posting and apologise for the comment made. I do not mean to demean our national anthem,” he said, adding that his family and him still stood up when the national anthem was played.
However, netizens were not so quick to forgive and continued to hound him for his insensitivity in the comments section.
Facebook user Chiang Choon Sern said the DAP MP’s apologetic status showed that he was not at all repentant for his actions.
“If that is the case, be a real man, and there is no need for you to delete that status. Typical politicians! Say something stupid and then retract it. Very convenient.”
Naz Ahmad said Chong had shown his true colours, and people would not be fooled by his ‘insincere apology’.
Another netizen, known as Kenneth Skelchy-Lim said there were more ‘politically correct’ ways to voice disagreement.
“You don’t have to be demeaning about it. Our national anthem is something to be proud of, not ridiculed.
“It is you who are embarrassed and to think you are an elected representative, no less. Shame on you,” he commented.
DAP’s Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, however, defended his colleague’s apology on Twitter, saying it was a ‘good and proper thing to do’.